The Navy's Top SEAL Visits RAND

The rear admiral in charge of the U.S. Navy's elite SEALs and other maritime special warfare components paid a first-ever visit to RAND on December 19, 2000.

Rear Admiral Eric Olson, Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, visited RAND's Santa Monica office at the invitation of the National Defense Research Institute (NDRI). Accompanied by his Flag Aide, Lieutenant Jeffrey Williams, Olson heard a series of briefings on recent NDRI and Arroyo Center research related to operational and management challenges that his community confronts.

With headquarters in Coronado, California, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) is responsible for all special operations conducted by the Navy. One of the Navy's smallest communities, with some 5,200 active-duty and 1,200 reservists, NSW is made up of SEALs and Special Warfare Combat Crewmen, the small boat and vessel operators who ferry SEALs on missions. Teams of SEALs and Combat Crewmen are given a variety of assignments, including unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, and counter terrorism missions. They also support certain operations that the Pentagon has been asked to shoulder.

RAND Vice President and NDRI Director Jeffrey Isaacson began the meeting with an overview of RAND and its national security work. Olson then heard short briefings on a variety of recent RAND research: 

  • John Birkler discussed the range of work that NDRI has been performing for the U.S. Navy; 
  • Robert Anderson and Greg Treverton briefed him about their work on information warfare; 
  • Randall Steeb relayed his and others' analyses of ways to enhance light forces; 
  • Charles Goldman discussed Arroyo research into officer retention and distance learning; 
  • Jerrold Green discussed RAND's capabilities to assess international and regional political and military trends; 
  • Russell Glenn conveyed conclusions from his research into military operations on urban terrain; 
  • and John Halliday reviewed results from two studies: one on how to maximize the use of military reserves in deployments, the other on ways to provide logistics support to special operations forces.